Is national income per capita a good measure of how well off a country is? To what extent do you believe that a country with a higher national income per capita is better off than a country with a lower national income per capita.  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is, of course, a matter of opinion.  It is from the realm of "normative" as opposed to "positive" economics.

On the one hand, national income per capita gives us a good idea about how much money is available to people in a given country.  It makes sense, for example, to say that Americans are better off than Chinese because America's national income per capita is so much higher than China's.  We know that Americans can afford many more goods and services than Chinese can.

But is money the only thing that matters?  Take, for instance, European countries that have less income but where people are given more vacation days.  Who is better off -- those who make more money, or those who have more leisure?

On a more national note, compare a country that is somewhat poorer, but has a more equal income distribution, with one that is richer but more stratified.  Which country is better off?

In both cases, these are matters for opinion and no one's answer is better than anyone else's.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial